David Kestenbaum

David Kestenbaum is a correspondent for NPR, covering science, energy issues and, most recently, the global economy for NPR's multimedia project Planet Money. David has been a science correspondent for NPR since 1999. He came to journalism the usual way — by getting a Ph.D. in physics first.

In his years at NPR, David has covered science's discoveries and its darker side, including the Northeast blackout, the anthrax attacks and the collapse of the New Orleans levees. He has also reported on energy issues, particularly nuclear and climate change.

David has won awards from the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Physical Society and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.

David worked briefly on the show This American Life, and set up a radio journalism program in Cambodia on a Fulbright fellowship. He also teaches a journalism class at Johns Hopkins University.

David holds a bachelor's of science degree in physics from Yale University and a doctorate in physics from Harvard University.


Planet Money
12:01 am
Wed July 13, 2011

How Frequent Fliers Exploit A Government Program To Get Free Trips

Jane Liaw Liaw orders coins from the U.S. Mint to earn frequent-flier miles.
Jane Liaw

We recently reported on the the government's failed effort to persuade Americans to use dollar coins.

But the coins have found at least one group of fans: Travel enthusiasts who buy thousands of dollar coins with credit cards that award frequent-flier miles for purchases.

Once in possession of the coins — shipped to them by the government for free — they can deposit them into their bank accounts and pay off the credit card bills. The result: a free ticket to anywhere.

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NPR News Investigations
12:00 am
Tue June 28, 2011

$1 Billion That Nobody Wants

Millions of dollars worth of $1 coins languish in a vault at the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond's Baltimore branch.
John W. Poole NPR

Originally published on Wed August 1, 2012 6:33 pm

Politicians in Washington hardly let a few minutes go by without mentioning how broke the government is. So, it's a little surprising that they've created a stash of more than $1 billion that almost no one wants.

Unused dollar coins have been quietly piling up in Federal Reserve vaults in breathtaking numbers, thanks to a government program that has required their production since 2007.

And even though the neglected mountain of money recently grew past the $1 billion mark, the U.S. Mint will keep making more and more of the coins under a congressional mandate.

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Planet Money
12:01 am
Fri June 10, 2011

The Comedian Who Ran For Mayor

Jon Gnarr, photographed in 2010.
Halldor Kolbeins AFP/Getty Images

Jon Gnarr is an absurdist Icelandic comedian. Last year, he ran for mayor of Reykjavik. Like most absurdist comedians, he had no political experience.

"I just invented a new political party," he says. "I was not drunk or anything."

Gnarr called his party the "Best Party." Because what could be better than the best party?

He created a 10-point campaign platform — with 13 points.

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